Car: Chevrolet C-1 Corvette
What makes it special: The C1 Chevrolet Corvette is the first generation of the sports car. It was introduced late in the 1953 model year, and produced through 1962. It is commonly referred to as the “solid-axle” generation, as the independent rear suspension did not appear until the 1963 Sting Ray. The Corvette was rushed into production for its debut model year to capitalize on the enthusiastic public reaction to the concept vehicle, but expectations for the new model were largely unfulfilled. Reviews were mixed and sales fell far short of expectations through the car’s early years. The program was nearly canceled, but Chevrolet would ultimately stay the course.
What made it famous: In an era of chrome and four headlamps, the Corvette succumbed to the look of the day. The 1958 model year and the four that followed all had the exposed four-headlamp treatment and prominent grills. Last features to appear in 1960 models included taillamps molded into the rear fenders and heavy grill teeth. New features include aluminum radiators, but only with 270 hp and 290 hp engines. Also for the first time, all fuel-injection engines required manual transmissions. The 1960’s Cascade Green was metallic, unique to the year and the rarest color at 140 made. Rare options: RPO 579 250 hp engine, RPO 687 heavy-duty brakes and suspension, RPO 276 15″×5.5″ wheels, RPO 473 power convertible top, RPO 426 power windows.
Why I would want one: Of all the years of America’s iconic sports car, the C-1 first-gen’s are my favorite.
Fun fact: General Motors designer Harley Earl loved sports cars. Earl convinced GM that they needed to build a two-seat sports car, and with his Special Projects crew began working on the new car, “Project Opel” in late 1951. The result was the hand-built, EX-122 pre-production Corvette prototype, which was first shown to the public at the 1953 General Motors Motorama at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City on January 17, 1953. Production began six months later.